Immediate skin-to-skin contact between parent and very preterm infants after birth


Immediate skin-to-skin contact between parent and very preterm infants after birth: Effects on parents’ experiences, breastfeeding, mother-infant physiological attunement and interaction.


Premature birth and subsequent hospitalization in a neonatal intensive care unit is an overwhelming experience for most parents and usually involves early separation and many barriers to the closenes between parent and child. Skin-to-skin contact (SSC) is a method of care that promotes both physical and emotional closeness, and studies show the physiological and psychosocial benefits of SSC for healthy full-term as well as stable premature babies. Immediately after birth, SSC supports the infant’s physiological transition from intra-to extrauterine life as well as promote breastfeeding and early bonding between parent and child. These factors can have an impact on health both in the short and long term. However, knowledge is lacking regarding the benefits of immediate SSC after birth, even for the smallest and not yet stable premature babies.
The study is a PhD project within the framework of the “IPISTOS” study (Immediate parent-infant skin-to-skin study), a randomized controlled multicenter study for children between gestational weeks 28 and 33


The purpose is to study the effects of immediate skin-to-skin contact for very premature babies in connection with the post-partum transition.


The very preterm babies (n = 150) are randomized to either skin-to-skin with a parent or with routine care in incubator or heating bed, for the first six hours of life. The medical care is the same in both groups; it is only the place that differs. After the first six hours, skin-to-skin care in both groups is encouraged according to WHO recommendations. The study is currently underway in neonatal departments at Karolinska university hospital and Stavanger University Hospital.
Collected data will be analyzed with both quantitative and qualitative approaches.


In our high-tech context, it is of great importance to developing care methods that improve not only survival but also the psychosocial development and health of the very premature baby. If our study shows positive results, we will have identified a cost-effective method of caring for very premature babies at the beginning of life, based on parental engagement and closeness between parents and children, with an immediate beneficial impact on the care, of this group.


The Graduate School of Health Sciences (Karolinska Institutet) and the Swedish Research Council, (VR)


Responsible for the project: Assistant Professor Wibke Jonas, Karolinska Institute, Children and Womens health

Research group

Sofia Zwedberg, Doctor in philosophy, senior lecture, Sophiahemmet University, Department of Health promotion, Siri Lilliesköld, RN, Karolinska University hospital, department of Children & Women’s Health Team